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How many copies would you like to buy? Camus, a Romance by Elizabeth Hawes. Add to Cart Add to Cart. Add to Wishlist Add to Wishlist. Elizabeth Hawes was a college sophomore in the s when she became transfixed and transformed by Albert Camus.

Nonfiction: 'Camus: A Romance'

Albert Camus is best known for his contribution to twentieth-century literature. But who was he, beneath the trappings of fame? Camus, a Romance reveals the French-Algerian of humble birth; the TB-stricken exile editing the war resistance newspaper Comba t; the pied noir in anguish over the Algerian War; the Don Juan who loved a multitude of women. Camus, a Romance is at once biography and memoir—wrought with passion and detail, it is the story not only of Camus, but of the relationship between a reader and a most beloved writer.

Intriguing, multi-faceted portrait. In many ways [Camus is] the perfect literary crush. You revel in the humanizing trivia. We experience the tragic velocity of a committed life cut short, and at the same time we get the intensity of the postwar era, the sense of high stakes and intellectual urgency. We are also reminded, lest we forget, that while ideas and attitudes go in and out of fashion, moral vigilance stays. Camus lived full throttle with both eyes open. A biography. An autobiography.

The history of an obsession. Decades later, she determined to understand her passion for the man behind such books as The Stranger and The Plague. Highly recommended for all academic libraries, this should also be strongly considered by public libraries. Elizabeth Hawes brings the great writer and his legion of friends and lovers alive in unexpected ways, from his boyhood in Algeria through the war and his years as a Resistant, to his titanic struggle with Jean-Paul Sartre and the thought that brought him such derision in France: I love justice but I also love my mother.

Camus once described an intellectual as someone whose mind watches itself. This fine book achieves something like that and as such is a gem. Hawes, a former staffer at The New Yorker , presents in fresh detail his relations with his American editor, his life as a literary celebrity, his modesty and rectitude, his devastating illness and much more.

Camus, A Romance is eye-opening and a huge pleasure to read. During my last college years, I had a photograph of Albert Camus prominently displayed above my desk—the famous Cartier-Bresson portrait with the trench coat and dangling cigarette. He was a celebrated and sophisticated writer; I was a young and serious French major at one of the eastern academic establishments then known as the Seven Sisters.

Not romantic love in the only sense I had experienced it in those days, an overheated yearning mixed with perpetual daydreaming, but something deeper, like the bonding of two souls. It was everything that mattered then; in its way, it summed up who I was. Even the hair spray had its significance as a weapon against the naturally curly hair that did not fit my image of the intellectual I wanted to be. Perhaps Camus, struggling with his admitted desperation to produce what would be his last novel in a study on the rue de Chanaleilles in Paris, might have been at least amused to know that in a room full of stuffed animals and drinking mugs in the backwater of western Massachusetts, there was a very unworldly young woman who was being transformed by his work.

I, of course, did not appreciate the extent of his influence then, but I knew that as I read his words I felt both grounded and empowered by the simple fact that I understood exactly what he meant.

Shining Romance is very grown up

I accepted his basic message—that in a world that was absurd, the only course was awareness and action. In my innocence, I was confident that one day I would arrange to meet Camus. Then, on January 4, , Camus died in a car crash outside Paris. He was only forty-six. I had just turned nineteen. I was still on Christmas vacation with my family, so I did not hear the news until I returned to school.

Only then did I see the awful headline and the picture of the Facel Vega wrapped around a tree.

Camus, a Romance

I felt bereft, and I was also more helplessly involved with him than ever. I used two sheets of carbon paper for copies and an ink eraser or white-out for errors, staving off exhaustion with coffee, No-Doze, and an incipient and exhilarating sense of accomplishment.


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I also remember the great sadness that came with the knowledge that my affair with Camus was ending. I had never before experienced such an intimate relationship with a writer, poring over his prose and filling up with his rhythms, thinking his thoughts, trying to crawl under his skin. Inadvertently, my kinship with Camus had progressed far beyond academic interest. However unlikely it seemed, I had come to identify with Camus, the courageous expatriate from Algeria, and for my own sake, I needed to know more about the man than his public pronouncements and his published work.

Thus began what has become a forty-year quest that effectively connects my past to my present. My pursuit of Camus has been neither always constant nor even conscious, but our relationship has endured. In the mids the pursuit was active, for I was at last living in France, and I expected to find Camus at every turn. But it was already a different era, and his death seemed to have been one of those turning points that divide time into then and now. The multicultural Algeria that Camus had labored to preserve was a lost cause and the FLN leader Ahmed Ben Bella had been elected president of the newly independent Arab country.

The images still had that beautiful presence. A professor at the Sorbonne told me that scholars from all over the world—Swedes, Germans, Americans, Chileans, and Libyans—were preparing doctoral theses on Camus: on Camus the Hellenist, Camus the pagan, or Camus the picaresque saint. Camus was being consecrated, I thought; his tomb was being sealed. Frederick Brown. And the Show Went On. Alan Riding. Simone De Beauvoir.

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